Intended for healthcare professionals


Ways of understanding

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 29 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:a

This week in our series on complexity science Paul Plsek and Tim Wilson illustrate how the ideas of complexity theory can be applied to health care (p 746). The theory sees an organisation as a complex adaptive system that responds flexibly to its environment and in reaching its goals. Unlike the metaphor of a machine, a complex organisation operates with a few flexible rules—or minimum specifications. Plsek and Wilson cite examples from an American report contrasting old approaches to health care (professionals control care, the system reacts …

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